Google Chromebooks get a holiday price cut, minor UI tweak

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Five months in from their official launch, Chromebooks haven't exactly taken the market by storm, but Google is hoping to make the web-centric laptops more "giftable" this holiday season with a few tweaks to the underlying operating system and discounted prices. According to a post at Google’s official blog, Chromebooks from both Acer and Samsung will be available starting at $299 "beginning this week."

Samsung dropped the price of its Series 5 Chromebook from $429 to $349, and added a black model -- it was previously only available in white. The device features a 12.1-inch widescreen (1280x800) display, a dual-core Intel Atom N570 processor and 16GB of solid-state storage.

Meanwhile the other Chromebook maker, Acer, now sells the Wi-Fi version of its Cromia (AC700) Chromebook for $299 and the Verizon 3G variant for $399. The Cromia has pretty much the same hardware as Samsung's Series 5 with exeption of an HDMI port and a slightly smaller, 11.6-inch (1366x768) display.

Besides the price cuts, Google also made some cosmetic tweaks to Chrome OS by introducing a fresh, clean login experience and moving the New Tab page items around a bit for the purpose of making it easier to manage apps, bookmarks and most visited sites. The company also gave the Chrome Web Store a new look, so that it's easier for people to scan the wall of images and discover useful apps and extensions.

It's a step forward for Google's fledgling operating system project but I doubt it will be enough to push Chromebooks ahead of the other $250-$300 netbooks on the market, which generally sport similar specs and won't limit you to a browser for all your computing needs.

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